Although the Texas Rangers have experienced their fair share of post-season turmoil, the insatiable Detroit Tigers have been newly designated as the regular season juggernaut that simply can’t finish off a spectacular season with a World Series victory. Despite going to ALCS three years in a row, the Tigers have had one disappointing meltdown after another. Granted, their last two losses in the playoffs came at the hands of the eventual World Series champions (San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox respectively), but even so, the Tigers have still squandered one grand opportunity after another to finish what they have started. However, with the dawn of every new season comes a sense of revived hope that this year is the year that the Tigers can finally win their first World Series title in 30 years. While the Tigers first place standing in the AL Central division may not seem like an impressive accomplishment in the grand scheme of things, it at least gives this dominant team a solid foundation to build upon as the season wears on.
Of course, its hard to fathom the Tigers being a World Series contender without mentioning their red hot 1st baseman Miguel Cabrera. Although some may justifiably question Cabrera’s hefty 10-year $292 million contract as an ill-advised commitment, it can’t be denied that for now Cabrera is arguably the best all-around player in baseball. Since his debut with the Tigers in 2008, Cabrera has had a batting average under .300 only once and has never hit less than 100 RBI’s in a single season. Beyond that, Cabrera is also a robust hitter than easily hit one home run after another thanks to his instinctual vigilance at the plate (had a slugging percentage of .636 last season, career high). However, while Cabrera’s miraculous consistency throughout the years has been nothing short of god-like, his future as a long-term superstar remains uncertain. Like with Albert Pujols, Cabrera’s unprecedented versatility and strength with inevitably dissipate with each subsequent season. Although Cabrera may not be as worn out as the respected Pujols, at age 30, Cabrera’s window for winning a World Series with the Tigers will only get smaller.
However, Cabrera’s offensive proficiencies are only a part of what makes the Tigers a threat as a perennial World Series contender. Aside from having one of the best hitters in the game, the Tigers also have a sensational starting pitcher in Justin Verlander who is already off to Miraculous start in his first two games. With the exception of Cabrera, Verlander is hands down the Tigers most coveted player that is both methodical and unpredictable when it comes to the types of pitches he’ll throw from batter to batter. What makes Verlander such a valuable defensive player is his ability to avoid giving up easy home runs and makes it just as hard for the opposition to garner earned runs as well. While Verlander’s 2.57 ERA on the season may not be a relevant indicator of his prospective accomplishments, it at least proves that he isn’t willing to play half-heartedly so he can save himself for games down the stretch of the regular season.
As far as the Tigers other moving parts are concerned, they have one of the most reliable infields in the game. Although they may not be the youngest bunch, these veteran fielders have proven that when they are healthy that they can use their developed discipline and experience to prevent mistakes that would otherwise plague this team in close games. In particular, newly acquired second baseman Ian Kinsler is an exceptional fielder and has proven to be a welcome addition to the Tigers in his first seven starts for the ball club (fielding percentage of 1.00, 21 assists and 0 errors thus far this season).
When all is said and done, the Tigers need to continue to build off of their successes of the past while overcoming their post-season letdowns that have been the story of the Tigers demise for the last few years. While the hungry Tigers have several veteran players that are capable of leading this team to a division title and beyond, they need to remain relentlessly engaged throughout the course of the entire year (including the post season) if they hope to get another shot at a World Series title.